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KYRGYZ REPUBLIC - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for the Kyrgyz Republic. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the possibility of violent crime and occasional civil unrest.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Areas south and west of Osh, the Fergana Valley region, and areas along the borders of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan
In June 2010, violent clashes were reported in Batken, Jalal-Abad and Osh oblasts, leaving over 350 people dead and more than 2,000 injured. The security situation remains volatile and unpredictable, and incidents of violence and unrest may occur.
Use only officially recognized border crossings in this area, as landmines may be present in uncontrolled border areas. Check if border posts are open before travelling there.
Heightened tensions throughout the region, together with increased threats globally from terrorism, may put Canadians at greater risk. Maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times. Exercise caution, particularly in commercial and public establishments (such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, places of worship), at outdoor recreational events, and in tourist areas frequented by foreigners.
Border crossings with Kazakhstan and Tajikistan are currently open. Uzbekistan land border crossings are open for citizens of other countries including Canadians and closed for Kyrgyz citizens. Kazakhstan border crossing points with the Kyrgyz Republic may be closed or restricted without warning.
Border areas near Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are mined.
There is a high rate of violent crime and foreigners have been targeted. Organized gangs are common. Robbery, mugging, and pickpocketing occur frequently near major hotels, bars, parks, and on public transportation. Remain vigilant and ensure that your personal belongings and documents are secure. Do not show signs of affluence and avoid carrying large sums of money.
Robberies have been committed by men in police uniforms. If approached, ask to see police credentials. Men posing as “meet and greet” airport facilitators lure unsuspecting foreigners into cars and demand money. Make prior arrangements with your contacts and ask for identification upon arrival. Do not leave with anyone who does not show identification.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Avoid public transportation as it is unsafe and unreliable.
At night, call a reputable taxi service in advance before leaving popular restaurants and places of recreation, as foreigners have been specifically targeted leaving such venues.
Use only officially marked taxis, pre-negotiate fares, and do not share a ride with strangers.
Drive defensively, as traffic accidents are a common cause of death and injury. Roads are poorly maintained and inadequately lit, and traffic regulations are often ignored. Buy gas in the cities of Bishkek and Osh because there are few gas stations outside those cities.
Roads to Tashkent are hazardous in winter.
Air travel is limited. Unannounced delays and flight cancellations are common in winter due to poor weather conditions. Reservations on regional airlines are not always respected. Confirm flights with your airline prior to departure.
Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General safety information
Police can arrest visitors who do not carry identification. Keep a legally certified copy of your visa and registration with you at all times, and your passport and visa in safekeeping facilities. Leave a photocopy of your travel documents with a relative or a friend at home.
Do not walk or travel alone, especially at night.
Tourist facilities are not highly developed.
Dial 101 for fire emergency services and 102 for police.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Kyrgyz authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit the Kyrgyz Republic, which must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit the Kyrgyz Republic.
Tourist Visa: Not required (for stays up to 60 days)
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Transit visa: Required
Letter of invitation
A letter of invitation is required for stays of more than one month (this requirement does not apply to tourist visas). You must register your passport with the Office of Visas and Registration within three business days after your arrival in the Kyrgyz Republic.
If you plan to travel to both the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan, with Almaty as your arrival and departure point, you need a multiple-entry Kazakhstan visa in addition to a Kyrgyz visa.
Routine and strict border controls are implemented on the road between Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Bishkek (Kyrgyz Republic) making travel in this region difficult. Strictly adhere to visa regulations.
Special permission must be obtained from Chinese authorities prior to travelling to China from the Kyrgyz Republic.
Violations of entry and exit requirements may result in serious penalties.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.
- Measles: Global Update - January 28, 2014 19:56
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.
Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Central Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in Central Asia, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & Culture
Laws & Culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.
Penalties for drinking and driving are strict.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Homosexual activity is legal but is not widely accepted by Kyrgyz society.
Photography of military installations or government buildings may result in a penalty. Seek permission from local authorities before taking photographs.
An international driving permit is required.
Although the Kyrgyz Republic is a secular country, Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to, particularly in rural areas. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.
The currency is the Kyrgyzstani som (KGS). The economy is primarily cash-based. Canadian currency and traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted. Declare foreign currency upon entry. You cannot leave with more than was brought in. Convert Kyrgyzstani soms into euros or U.S. dollars before leaving the country, as you will not be able to do so after departure. Automated banking machines are widely available in Bishkek but may be limited in rural areas. Credit cards are accepted in major hotels, some restaurants, and most banks. Due to the potential for fraud and other criminal activity, use credit cards with caution. Leave copies of your card numbers with a family member in case of emergency.
Natural Disasters & Climate
Natural Disasters & Climate
The Kyrgyz Republic is located in an active seismic zone.
Avalanches and landslides are common in mountainous areas, especially in the spring. They can be hazardous and block road access.
Bishkek - Consulate of Canada
Astana - Embassy of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Astana, Kazakhstan, and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.